Marie Miller is a Nashville based pop-folk recording artist that has been making waves since her self titled indie EP release in 2005. She signed with Curb Records in 2006 and has since topped charts such as Contemporary Christian and even the iTunes singer/songwriter lists. Fresh off SXSW, Miller swung through Los Angeles and I was lucky enough to get the chance to have a few words with her at a cool little café in Beverly Hills
So you've been in LA for a few days now. How’s the city been treating you so far?
- I love it! I love being in LA so as always it's been a lot fun.
So I know you were here for a few years in your early childhood. Was it nine years before you moved?
- Yeah I lived in mid Northern California, San Jose and I loved it
And you grew up in Virginia, correct?
- Yes, exactly.
Would you say that that area had any influence on your music and writing style?
- Definitely. So Virginia is a place with a lot of American music so theres a lot of Bluegrass and Americana and I started playing mandolin and acoustic guitar. I was taught by a local bluegrass legend when I was around 12. It's been really cool .Theres a lot of great festivals there and they're very strong on that type of music. So it definitely influenced my music which I would call pop folk.
Besides other recording artists or bands would you say you received any influence from film or literature?
- Yes! I’m a huge classic literature fan and nerd [laughs]. I also love fantasy like Alice In Wonderland, Lord of the Rings and [The Chronicles of] Narnia and all that stuff. I also love Russian Literature like Dosteyevsky and definitely in my song writing I sometimes relate back to the characters that I've read about and kind of bring them into the mix.
I saw that you played for the Pope back in 2015. Can you tell us anything about that experience?
- Yeah that was an incredible experience. I got a call one day that said "Hey we're going to have Andrea Bocelli and Aretha Franklin and Jim Gaffigan is going to do some comedy. 750,000 people are going to be there and it's going to be on CNN and Fox. Do you want to play?" and I was like "uhhhh yeah, I do!". It was just a really incredible and amazing experience. It was my first time on live TV and I think Pope Francis is super great.
Did you get to meet anyone else that was playing?
- I did! I met Jim Gaffigan and his wife and they were awesome. I didn't get to meet Aretha Franklin but I met her crew which included Jessie Jackson so that was pretty cool.
Out of all the bands you've opened for, would you say you've had a favorite so far?
- Well I've just been so blessed and I love every single band that I've gotten to do even the little dates with and theres just been so many amazing people but just experience wise, I opened up for The Backstreet Boys and you just can't really top that.
Your latest release, Letterbox, can I ask you how you landed on that title?
- So I decided to call the album Letterbox because what I realized while I was looking through the songs is that many of the songs were like letters to people that I couldn’t write to and so I wrote a song about them. “Angeline” is a song on the album which is about having a best friend growing up and eventually drifting apart. “Glitter Gold” is about for a friend with addiction. There was just one thing after another of these things that I wanted to say to these people but couldn’t do so to their face so its the letters to them...and also the Across The Universe song by The Beatles has a line "thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letterbox" and that's one of my favorite songs so I wanted to pay tribute to a song that I love so much.
- I saw the recent video for “Lost At Sea” and I really enjoyed it. Is there anything you can tell us about how it was done or if there's a story behind it?
- Yeah! So, for the video you mean?
Yeah or for the song as well--
- Actually I would love to talk about the video because those are so fun. So I saw these videos that Vincent Moon does.
Take away shows?
- Yes exactly and I wanted to recreate that before Vincent learned who I am [laughs] and so I got together with this amazing director named Joel Robertson and told him. [I] wanted to make an enchanted forest type of setting and for it to feel very real and very woodsy. We did those in the outskirts of Nashville and it was a total blast.
Speaking of Nashville, how would you say the music scene over there compares to the music scene here in LA?
- It’s so much smaller. Nashville is such a tiny little place compared to LA but I haven't spent a lot of time in LA for music. It's been more for press or studio. I recorded half of Letterbox here in LA. But from what I've seen their very similar but from what I hear they're totally different.
Was their anything you did differently during the writing process for the new album?
- Well it was basically written from 2011 to 2016 so it was a long time coming music wise so I just kept writing and writing and writing and I think that the next album is going to be different because I want to song write when I really don't feel like it because I don't want to wait that long. I don't want to write for another five years and want to write in a single year for all the stuff we need so hopefully that will happen
If you could attach one word or emotion to the new album what would it be?
- Hmmm....I'd say nostalgia or reaching. As in reaching for people. Like having relationships and trying to make it work whether it be with friends, relatives, or boyfriends and just trying to reach to them.
Do you have a favorite song off the album that you like to play live more so than the others?
- That's a great question. There’s a song called “Next Best Thing” which is really... sassy [laughs] so I like playing that one.
You're based in Nashville. Do you ever see a difference in the crowd when you play away from home?
- Yeah, Nashville is the worst place to play because everyone is doing the same thing so I think their bored sometimes. They don't get pumped up. They like to play it cool. So I love playing anywhere else.
Would you say there’s a lot of hipsters in Nashville?
- Oh yeah, crawling.
If you could play any music festival in the world, say main stage, which one would it be?
- One of my dreams is to play Telluride Bluegrass Festival. Which is not just bluegrass music but Mumford and Sons headlined there, they've had The Lumineers and Alison Krauss so that is my dream festival.
Last Question. What can we expect next from you?
- I hope a lot! The album is coming out on April 28th and we're marketing super hard for a summer/fall tour with a great opening spot so that's soon to come.
Marie Millers first full length album Letterbox is set to release on April 28th. You can catch her live at Jammin Java in Vienna, Virginia for the record release show alongside Scott Mulvahill the day before, April 27th!